The St George Illawarra Dragons will proudly wear their Indigenous jersey against the South Sydney Rabbitohs at ANZ Stadium, Olympic Park on Thursday.
The unique design of the jersey will have a special relevance as both teams will take the field in their respective individually designed strips to celebrate the indigenous culture within our communities.
The jersey itself was designed by local aboriginal artist Lani Balzan, who when asked to design the strip, said she wanted to show the strong connection traditional owners have always had with country.
Balzan is the recent winner of the 2016 NAIDOC Week Poster which is presently being viewed nationwide before being presented during the annual NAIDOC Ball in Darwin.
The land and sea, all fauna and flora had special significance and clan groups in the area had different roles.
While some had the responsibilities for looking after the water supply, others had fish, or the kangaroo, or the possum, the grasses, the trees.
Totems are a demonstration of each individuals connection to both the ‘Real World and the Spirit World.
To have a totem is to acknowledge your ancestral connection to the Spirit world and the dreaming, Land and Country are ‘Life – the Dreaming connects the individual to that life.
Country is beyond sacred, it is life itself.
The Dharawal people have three major totems which are the Whale, Kangaroo and Snake which are all represented on the jersey.
There are many others but these totems demonstrate the three main spirit creators and their importance to life.
The dots around the whales represent the Ancestors’ spirits.
The top represents the sky the middle is the sea and the bottom with the snake and kangaroo represent the earth.
The dotted area in the centre represents the spirit world and the dreaming.
The dots flowing out from here represent Ancestors whilst these dotted areas represent coming together with strength, courage and wisdom.
Specifically, the whale tail with dots represents the importance of connection to country.
The jersey represents all of this.
It is a way of working towards improving the profile of Aboriginal and Torres Strait people regarding the value and integrity of Aboriginal culture and the ways of knowing.